Timing a workout can be tricky for anyone. You want to achieve optimal results without putting yourself at risk of injury. So, how long should a workout be? That answer depends on many factors, including your body, your health, and your doctor’s recommendations.
Read on to learn about important components that influence your workout length. Ideally, this intel will allow you to create a manageable and effective workout routine.
The Basic Recommendation
The American Heart Association recommends adults get 150 minutes of moderate exercise or 75 minutes of intense aerobic fitness every week. That breaks down to roughly 30-minute workouts, five days per week.1
What Counts As Exercise?
Exercise is a broad term. Sure, it can involve trips to the gym, pilates classes, weight training, or running around the neighborhood. But many daily activities and pastimes are also technically exercises.
Doing chores around the house, like gardening or even dancing, counts as exercise. Basically, any type of physical activity may help support good health. This broad definition may make it easier for you to achieve those physical activity recommendations.2
Potential Health Benefits Of Regular Exercise
Daily exercise does more than help increase muscle size. Routine aerobic exercise or strength training exercises may also help support:
- Heart health
- Bone health
- Mental health
- And much more
Regular exercise may also help make daily activities easier.3
How Long Should A Workout Be? Factors To Consider
Gauging your workout’s ideal length can be challenging, especially if you are starting a new fitness routine. That’s why Tony Horton typically considers these key factors to achieve an optimal workout time. There is no magic number for everyone, but the information below may help you determine a rough exercise plan for yourself.
Your Fitness Level
Your level of fitness should influence the length of your workout routine. Beginners unfamiliar with their body’s limits can easily overdo it at the gym. Overexertion can lead to injury, particularly if you’re new to working out. So, it’s a good idea to start out with short workouts that are less than 30 minutes. Then, add a few minutes every week to help build up your resistance and stamina.4
The Type Of Exercise You’re Doing
How you get your exercise makes a big difference on your workout length. You can probably safely play golf for a few hours, but you don’t want to lift weights for four hours straight. Categorize your fitness within these two types of fitness for a more accurate workout time:
- Moderate-Intensity Exercise: This includes activities like walking, water aerobics, rollerblading, and dancing. Moderate activity will bring up your heart rate and increase your breath rate. Try to do at least 150 minutes per week of moderate activity.
- Vigorous Activity: More intense workouts include running, swimming, bike riding, and tennis. These cardio workouts typically make you breathe hard. Because of this increased effort, you can do shorter workouts that total up to 75 minutes a week.5
Your Fitness Goals
A marathoner and a casual runner have very different goals in mind when they hit the track. And, the same is true for any other type of workout. The desired outcome influences the length of your workout program. Here are some general time frames based on specific workout goals.
Weight loss is one of the most common fitness goals. A solid workout program combined with a healthy eating plan is ideal to help you support your weight loss goals. And regular fitness is crucial for maintaining a healthy weight. Typically, you’ll want 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity or 75 minutes of vigorous exercise to help set you up for success.6
Exercise is a great way to put a smile on your face. In fact, even a 20-minute training session may help boost your mood for up to 12 hours after working out. To keep that good vibe going, aim for about 20-40 minutes of exercise a day.7
This is a great fitness goal that may help you with many everyday activities. Patience is key when it comes to building endurance — especially if you’re new to working out. To help build stamina, start with 10-15 minute workouts, and slowly level up by adding a few minutes every week.8
More isn’t always better when it comes to building muscle. Some experts suggest your strength training sessions should be 30-45 minutes. After 45 minutes, growth hormones stimulated during exercise begin to return back to their baseline levels. So, you won’t see much muscle mass growth after that period of time.9
Tips For Developing Your Workout
Check out a few of Tony Horton’s tips for helping you hit those target workout times.
Gauge Your Breath For Fitness Metrics
Your body and breath can provide great feedback on your fitness. For example, if you can carry on a conversation while you work out, then you’re most likely performing moderate-intensity exercise. Alternatively, any activity that makes it hard to converse tends to be more vigorous. Knowing the extent of your cardio then allows you to calculate an effective workout length.10
Find Time Throughout The Day
A busy personal life can easily encroach on weekly training programs. So, don’t get discouraged if your workout is shorter than you planned. Getting even a few minutes of exercise every day is better than nothing. You can even break up your fitness throughout the day. It doesn’t all need to happen at once.11
Quality Vs Quantity
All this talk about workout times shouldn’t distract you from the quality of your workout. A focused and determined 20-minute workout may be more valuable than a casual 30-minute stroll on the treadmill. It often boils down to using your time effectively. Focus on quality to get the most from your workout.12
Build Rest Periods Into Your Exercise Routine
Rest is an important component of your weekly workouts. A rest day allows your muscles to recover from fitness. Try to factor in some rest periods between your activities. This will allow your body time to repair itself.13
Speak To A Medical Professional
If you’re not sure how long your workout routine should be, ask your doctor. They can take into account your physical abilities and help you decide on a great target plan and length for you. Likewise, if you feel any discomfort while you’re working out, stop and consult a doctor before proceeding.
Pick An Ideal Workout Time That Works For You
As you can see, there’s no set number for how long you should work out. Everybody has different abilities and goals.
Your fitness sweet spot should provide you with adequate cardio, strength training, and time for rest. Listen to your body, and adjust your workout times accordingly. Over time, you should find an exercise regimen and length that works for you and your fitness goals.